Monday, August 17, 2009

Reflections on Remediation: What Can (and Should) Be Done?

The following is a guest blog post by Dr. James Clinger in the Department of Government, Law and International Affairs.

In recent years, American institutions of higher education have increasingly taken on the task of admitting students to college who, by some standards, are not prepared to do college-level work in one or more basic subjects. Such students are often guided to developmental (a.k.a., remedial) courses that are intended to prepare them to do college level work. As pressure to admit, retain, and graduate more and more students is exerted upon colleges and universities, the proportion of the total student body in need of developmental classes is likely to increase.

Many faculty members are not very comfortable with this trend. Some would say that students who are not ready for college work should not be admitted at all. Others would say that students in need of extra coursework to prepare them for college should not be admitted to a four year institution, but should begin at a community college before transferring. Still others would like universities to do more remediation than is presently done. A recently presented conference paper by Paco Martorell and Isaac McFarlin dealing with the effects of remedial education courses in mathematics may inform this debate to some extent. A story about the paper, the paper's abstract, and an earlier draft of the full-text of the paper can be found below.

Education Week Story

Martorell and McFarlin paper

Questions for Murray State Faculty/Staff:

As a matter of policy, should Murray State or other four-year institutions admit large numbers of students in need of remediation?

Would the students be better served if they attended community colleges
before transferring to Murray State or some other college or university?

If we don't admit them, will we be meeting the goals that the Council on Postsecondary Education has set for us?
If we do admit them, how can we prepare them for college-level work?

evidence indicates that remedial classes are not always effective in reaching desired objectives. Are there some forms of delivering remedial education that have been proven effective?

Is there something that we could do differently to make developmental classes enhance learning, as well as improve rates of retention and graduation?

If you have any thoughts on the questions above, please click COMMENTS below. These are important questions that will impact the future of Murray State and the quality of education we can provide.